At mid-morning on August 18th, in the farthest reaches of southern Louisiana, the Silver Flash and I came to the end of the road. After 1878 miles we had reached that long-sought though bitter-sweet moment when we could pedal no farther without getting wet.
A moment alone to think about it, then the celebrations began. Scott Lagasse, my friend and fellow pedaler for Marrow Quest’s last 70+ miles, was joined by my friends from St. Joseph, Missouri – Jeff and Susan Heartling and Kristin Akin. The party amped up even more when Courtney Hurd, Pam Heaton, and Paul Spadaro arrived from Charlottle, North Carolina, bringing balloons and cheers from the Hendrick Marrow Program and Hendrick Motorsports. So there I sat, surrounded by congratulatory balloons, on top of the sign I had strived so hard to reach on the 70-day Marrow Quest journey, seeing my friends, all of whom had traveled to that rather bleak, heat-stricken spot in the middle of marshlands and tugboats, to share this moment with me. I stayed up there on my perch for a fair few minutes because I knew when I came down I would have to say something but I was truly at a loss for words to tell them how much their being there meant to me. And what Marrow Quest had grown to mean to me.
That night our end-of-the-road gang was joined by more friends and Marrow Quest supporters from Baton Rouge – Phil Page and Blaine & Cheri Efferson. We gathered at a classy New Orleans eatery where a pyromaniac cooked our dinner.
Early the next morning we all trooped off to TV-Land where the #1 New Orleans News Host, Sally-Ann Roberts did Marrow Quest the honor of adding the 28th signature to the Silver Flash, live on-air. Sally-Ann is the sibling-match whose marrow donation was the needed key to saving her sister’s life. Sally-Ann’s sister is Robin Roberts, the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Both women are passionate supporters of bone marrow donation registration. If they were looking over your shoulder right now as you read this blog they would urge you to contact Be The Match or the Hendrick Marrow Program and get registered. (Contact links at the top of this MARROWQUEST.ORG site. As would Jeff Haertling. As would Kristin Atkin.
Next stop in the Big Easy: the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center at Ochsner Hospital. To me this was a truly moving event on several levels.
First, they had cookies. Always a hit with me.
And of ultimate importance, and far and away the most meaningful….they had organized a gathering of morrow donors and marrow recipients, together with their doctors, nurses, and clinicians. The front-line troops in the battle against blood cancers. The people who get the important work done. It was a high honor to meet them and a huge honor to be recognized by them.
Soon after Marrow Quest’s reception at Ochsner Hospital, the big silver USAirways bird flew me back to Charlotte, North Carolina. No longer was I traveling at The Speed of Steve. This bird flew at 500+ miles an hour. Quite a change from the day before when Marrow Quest’s final miles barely cranked up to double digits.
Here’s my question: Who goosed the guy in the floppy hat?
MARROWQUEST.ORG will continue and will scale new heights (that’s a hint of what’s to come), so please check back with us again from time to time.
My sincere thanks to all for following Marrow Quest on this site, plus on Facebook and Twitter (@marrowquest). Your support and encouragement has meant a great deal to me.
Be well……….Steve M.